Sunday, 18 April 2010

Hessian Commissary

You can imagine the scene...

Commissary von Dumkopf: "Zis is very disappointing. You said you could supply ze Burgunder wine from Baden-Baden and now you say zis is not possible and I must do with some French rubbish instead?"

Mr Berry, purveyor of fine wines to the nobility and gentry: "Come on guv, don't you know there's a war on? You're lucky I managed to get anything past the Frenchies on blockade. Now my good friend Mr Gallo has managed to find me some excellent pinot noir from the south of France, the spiritual home of your Burgunder I believe. This is top notch stuff and as a gesture of goodwill I'll throw in a case of Louisiana Claret for no extra charge. Frankly, I'm robbing meself."

Von Dumkopf: "Vell, I suppose it will have to do. I am in need of supplies for winter and, to be honest, Colonel Rall will drink anything. I am sure he will enjoy Herr Gallo's wines at the Trenton garrison's Christmas Eve dinner."

These are the Voltaire and Frederick the Great figures from Eureka's latest 18th century civilians release. The story, linked above, of how US giant E&J Gallo had been duped into selling cheap French merlot as pinot noir provided the inspiration as to how to incorporate these figures into my AWI collection. The Frederick figure is painted as a commissary from the Hesse-Cassel corps. I could not find any information on the uniform of Hessian commissaries, so followed the Prussian uniform in the SYW, on the basis that the Hessians often followed Prussian practices and styles - it seemed a decent default option. A certain amount of artistic licence was necessary on the Frederick figure - this is clearly a very senior commissary. "Mr Berry" is named after the well-known and long-established wine merchants Berry Bros.& Rudd of St James Street, London.  The company that became Berry Bros. was started in 1698.  At the time of the AWI it was owned and managed by William Pickering and John Clarke, and by 1810 the business was in the hands of Mr Clarke's grandson, George Berry.  It has remained family owned ever since.  The company has a long history of supplying wine to the British Royal Family, starting with its first consignment to George III in 1760.  So it's not inconceivable that a representative of company might have been selling wines to the Crown armies' quartermasters during the AWI.  When the Kiwi and I got engaged, we agreed to place our Wedding Gift List with Berries and spent a happy afternoon choosing all manner of vinous goodies.  Unfortunately, unknown to me, the Kiwi then decided to set up a rival list at the department store John Lewis and told all her friends and family to buy from that one.  But the generosity of my family and friends resulted in some lovely wedding presents from Berries, which will keep going for another decade or so.  The barrels and crates are resin items from Warlord Games.

2 figures. Painted March 2010.


Stokes Schwartz said...

I like them very much!

Best Regards,


paulalba said...

Great painted figures and very fine link with the sour grapes case.

Gallowglass said...


Anonymous said...

Great brushwork an excellent use of the miniatures.


Sire Godefroy said...

Finally, more AWI stuff. Cool figures, thought about purchasing them for myself, but postage was a killer. The idea of this vignette is also nice; just great how you embellish your collection with such fine details.
I have no clue about the actual story's background, but I suggest that a Hessian commissioner would prefer a Riesling or (if red) a Pinot noir from the Hessische Bergstra├če area. ;-D


Phil Olley said...

"No Blue Nun then?!"
Nice vignette Giles.

legatus hedlius said...

Lovely! And I had missed that wine story. We used to have a holiday home in Langedoc-Rousillon when I was young and the local wine was appalling!

Bluewillow said...

A lovely vignette I wouldn't have thought of